Hey, Answerman!

by Zac Bertschy, Mar 23rd 2007

It's been a good week; Microsoft put Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, my all-time favorite video game, up on XBox Live on Wednesday, so I need to hurry up and finish this column so I can go play it for the millionth time.

Thanks again to Sandra McMullen
for this week's banner.


There's been something that's been bothering me for sometime, it's about the fangirls of anime/manga in general. What i don't get is how obsessed they can be on certain series, especially those that has nothing of a stable plot, but still as long as they had 'fanservice' regarding boys, they would make such a big deal about it. Like take the overly-rated popular Ouran High Hostclub, all the characters are so flat, the stories contains little sense and society logic, yet there's alway a giant wave of fandom; from fanart to fanfics, dedicated to it. Honestly, i would think the author was trying to take characters from Fruits Basket and twist them into some school parody. The thing that disappoints me is that her fame is mostly (i suspect) due to her 'fanservice' popularity and the fans never really cared or stop to consider her sloppy storytelling...
 
 is there a clear explanation to this? Or am i just getting worked up over this?

I've argued plenty of times in the past that it's pretty irritating to see people get all worked up and obsessive over shows with crappy or cliched premises simply because they have OH GOD HOT BOYS in them; my favorite example is Saiyuki, which I'm convinced would've been written off as yet another lame shonen action take on Journey to the West if it wasn't overflowing with fangirl-baiting character designs. There are plenty of shows out there like that, and the amount of squealing fangirls who go nuts over them is pretty irritating.

That said, they're just having their fun; I've never heard one of them actually defend the show's simplistic, predictable storyline as being better than Shakespeare. It's kind of an insular celebration of shallowness. Is it a little disappointing? Of course it is; I'd much rather see these people going out of their way to appreciate something that's a little deeper than a puddle and maybe obsess over a show that has more qualities than OH GOD HOT BOYS, but what are you going to do? It's mostly harmless and likely they'll grow out of it eventually anyway.

As for Ouran High School Host Club, I haven't seen much of the show myself, but you may be in the minority on that one; from what I can tell it has a massive amount of crossover popularity. I've met many male fans of the show, and most of them seem to enjoy the (admittedly light as a feather) storyline; it's an easygoing comedy, and there's a lot to like about it. At least, that's what they tell me. I'm sure there's a legion of shallow fangirls who only watch it for the OH GOD HOT BOYS, but it seems to have more appeal than just that. I doubt they're "stopping to consider the sloppy storytelling" but obviously there's something about the show that elevates it at least somewhat past the usual fangirl tripe.


Last week you had a question about the chances of the Air or Kanon anime being licensed in the US. I've actually been thinking about a somewhat related question for some time now. How likely do you think it would be for the original H-games that these anime are based off of to be licensed for release here in America. But not just Air and Kanon but also games that have had their anime counterparts licensed here, such as Kimi ga Nozomu Eien (Rumbling Hearts), Fate/stay night, Shuffle! and Hirugashi. When I like an anime I'd like to also enjoy the original source material, be it manga, novel, or interactive pornography. I know that there are a few companies here that have put out a small library of H-games, but most of what I have seen are mostly just porn and don't have that much of a plot. Just wondering what your thoughts were on the issue. Thank you.

Well, the truth is, the market for those anime is pretty small, as we explained last time; the market for the "games" (which I hesitate to call games - they're more like reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book, except at the end you bang a 12-year old or whatever) is bound to be even smaller. While I don't think it's impossible, I don't know if any company would be willing to take a chance on the genre; it's much easier to sell straight-up porn games rather than something like Fate/stay night, which has a pretense of being a serious, sincerely told story (wherein there's also porn).

That's not to say the games won't come stateside, I just can't think of a publisher that would be willing to pay the (likely very lofty) licensing fees for them. Especially since PC software is incredibly easy to pirate and given that most of the audience for those games is a hardcore anime fan that probably downloaded the anime versions as they aired, and... well, you do the math. Not to mention that the people most interested in those games have probably already played them using fan translations.

It's just a minefield of financial risk.


I've noticed something about anime that's based off their manga counterparts that's been bugging me for a while now. Last year or so, I was introduced to the Sgt. Frog anime, which was based off of one of my favorite manga. I enjoyed it at first, but then I began to realize that storylines from the comic were being changed, everything just seemed so..childish, and they even went as far to change the personalities of two characters (Natsumi is a prime example, and Keroro is *way* more annoying then he was in the manga). Also, this is just personal preference, but I disliked most of the voices.
 
Over time, I began to notice other anime having similar effects. Midori Days was too short and cut out characters (Though it did keep the humor). Black Cat has a different storyline from what I've been told (Doesn't mean I've never seen the anime though. I bought the DVD and there were some things I didn't remember), and even Bleach is different. They toned down the funnier scenes from the manga (Such as when Kon runs away), and I'd even go as far to say they changed some of the characters, but that's arguable. What I'm saying is that the animation companies seemingly want to go into their own direction, and it's really annoying me.
 
Don't get me wrong, there are some animes I think that emulate, or even improve upon, the manga. These include Death Note, One Piece, Naruto (Not counting the fillers), and Bo-Bobo. I'm preparing to watch the anime adaptions of Buso Renkin and Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, and I don't want these animes to 'suffer' the same fate. Is there a particular reason why they do this?

There are a hundred different reasons why a manga might be changed in the adaptation process when it gets picked up for a TV run, and some of them are more valid than others. The most obvious - and likely most ubiquitous - one is that generally, anything that shows up on television - especially mass-market family shows like Sgt. Frog or Bleach - are almost always reworked in some fashion to make them more marketable to a larger audience, or they have certain elements increased or decreased in order to expand the show's marketability. For better or for worse, the producer of the Sgt. Frog anime thought that the changes to his personality would make the character more endearing or might sell a few more Sgt. Frog plush dolls. Maybe the director simply wanted to add his own personal artistic touch to the story, or maybe the parent company producing the anime placed story demands on the production staff. There's no real way to know exactly why it happens every time.

Frankly, although you admit that disliking the voices is "a personal preference", most of the stuff you're complaining about also boils down to subjective judgement. I'm sure a lot of people out there feel that although it isn't a panel-for-panel exacting recreation, the Bleach anime captures the essence of the manga very well. There may be elements of the show that are toned down - likely because it's easier to get away with risque situations in manga, whereas TV anime are scrutinized for more than your average comic - but it's basically the same, so that's enough for most people.

Generally when the show's storyline starts to veer off into unknown territory, that's because they caught up to the manga and need to come up with filler to kill time until there's enough new manga to animate that'll last a while. We've covered this recently in this column so I won't go into great detail, but basically the show needs to stay on the air (for whatever reason) while they wait for the manga to expand, so it's filler o'clock.

The fact is, basically you're complaining when an anime isn't exactly like the manga it's based on, and if that's the attitude you're watching these shows with, I have to wonder why you bother watching the anime versions at all. Ultimately, the Bleach anime is an adaptation of the manga. Adaptation means "change". Generally it's very close, but it isn't 100 percent faithful to the original comics; that's to be expected. If all you want is to see the exact same story you've already seen, why are you watching it in the first place? Do you feel you're the "guardian" of the original work, and watch the adaptations simply to try and spot changes? What's the point of that? I really do wonder. I personally like it when the anime is a little different from the original; if I've already seen the story - and you youself seem to deeply prefer manga to anime - why bother watching it again?

If you're demanding "perfect" adaptations, you'll never be happy.


Dwar Answerman, this summer I am attending my first anime convention, anime Expo in Long Beach! I am very excited. But I have a problem. I want to cosplay as Sakura from Naruto but I look online and i see so many girls who are really beautiful cosplaying and I see internet cosplay forums where they make fun of costumes and call people fat even when they're not or call their costumes crappy even if they're good, and I don't think i could handle it if that happened to me. Are people going to make fun of me at the convention if my costume isn't exactly... ...perfect? What if I'm not as pretty as some of the other girls cosplaying? I'm not a fat girl but I'm no beauty queen either! I really want to do it but I'm worried! HELP!

Oh, man. I really hope anime fans out there who are planning on cosplaying for the first time stay far, far away from dedicated cosplay forums.

First, some common sense: yes, if you dress up as an anime character and go out in public - even at an anime convention - SOMEONE will make fun of you at some point. Probably not to your face, and probably not even online later, but there'll be someone who snickers at you, or some catty high school girl wearing a stupid anime hat who makes fun of your costume because she's a bitch. It happens. Frankly, you shouldn't care. You probably won't hear a word of it, and your costume is pretty simple and common anyway. Unless you weigh 500 pounds or something; then you'll probably hear a lot of it. But hey, it goes with the territory.

A lot of cosplay forums - not all of them, of course - are basically like walking into a henhouse where all the hens are mean-spirited, shallow jackasses. Unless you're one of the annointed Cosplay Queens - people like Adella (who, in my experience, is a pretty nice person), or, god help me, Alisa-chan or Francesca Dani (both of whom moonlight as camwhores - truly these are role models for our younger fans!) - you're going to be mocked by the masses on CosplayJerks.com or whatever. They're mean to everyone, so if they decide that the hem on your dress sucks or whatever, you should probably just ignore them completely. In fact, my experience reading cosplay community forums - which I'll admit isn't very much - has shown me that there are likely few communities out there where the members are as vicious to one another as cosplayers seem to be. There's some kind of bizarro "let's all act like really rude high school kids" thing going on where every single aspect of someone's appearance in a cosplay photo gets ripped to shreds. Sometimes it's funny, but man, those kids are mean. That's not to say they're all like that; Cosplay.com, for example, has very helpful forums and in general, people there seem to be nice. I'm sure there are other cosplay forums out there that are totally helpful and everyone's nice to one another - but you're probably better off just enjoying yourself, wearing your costume, and ignoring the whole community aspect to it.

As for the "pretty girls" you're referring to, the ones with elaborate costume websites, a giant convention entourage and a legion of drooling sycophants that exists to tell them that they were molded from God's own tears, don't worry about them. There's a secret you should know about them, and I'll keep this between you, me and the thousands of people who read this column: most of them are primadonnas. That probably doesn't come as any great shock, but generally, when someone gets that much attention heaped on them simply for looking good while dressed as an anime character, it goes straight to their head and they instantly start showing Jennifer Lopez-style "diva" traits. Sure, they
can be nice - I've met a few of 'em and they seemed pleasant enough - but I've also seen plenty of moments when they earn their reputation for being, well, stuck-up and self-absorbed. Just wait until you walk past one at a convention having a meltdown because someone snapped a photo of them while they were adjusting their hairpiece. Don't worry about being one of those girls, or being compared to them; you're better off just being yourself and having fun.

So don't worry about any of that. Just make your costume. Who cares what the internet thinks?







And this, my friends, is one of many reasons why I don't like moe dating harem shows.

i love shows like Kanon and Air and i realized that i really like how the girls in that show act, they are like the perfect women. are all japanese women like that and if so do they date american dudes heh

You mean "are all Japanese women one-dimensional fantasy fullfillment characters designed to be as fragile and subservient as possible"? The answer is "No". Thank the heavens, the answer is no
. Also, your letter made me a little ill.



Switchin' it up with a mountain lion cub this time. Bet you didn't see that one coming, did you?






This week's rant is courtesy of Megan Walker. The following is in no way representative of the opinions of Anime News Network, Zac Bertschy, or anyone else save the person who wrote it.

I would like to respond to all the elitists out there who feel that in order to be a true connoisseur of Anime you cannot watch fansubbed versions found on the Internet, and you must buy any Anime you want to watch when it becomes officially licensed in the United States. Their argument is that by not purchasing all the anime you want to watch you are short-changing the artists and other people who worked to produce the series.

To their argument I would like to say that while I understand that Anime is art, it is also produced for television. Other than the cost of my television and some sort of cable or satellite hook-up, I would never pay directly to watch a certain series on an American network, so I don't understand why its such a crime to watch the same sort of TV series produced for the Japanese network for free. Networks don't make money off of the series anyway, they make money off the sponsors who advertise in the form of commercials. So any money the animators and producers receive for their work from the network will be based on the popularity of the series, which can only be enhanced by getting it out there to the masses, rather than keeping it under lids until proper licensing can take effect.

If there weren't fans who subtitled and watched ahead of licensing – much of the anime that gets licensed wouldn't ever get licensed, because the company and sponsors couldn't be sure of a fan-base here. It's the same with films. This is why many films are shown at festivals before a large release – to test its popularity. Yet no one would say that those who attend film festivals are somehow "cheating" the filmmakers of money due. They are the ones who "generate buzz" for the picture and create market appeal. The same goes for anime. If there aren't people like me who watch dozens of fansubbed series' passing on the word to other fans about the ones I've found that are good – a series never becomes popular and is never licensed for all the "proper" fans out there who can't dirty their fingers with bit torrents or other "illegal" files.

The internet has forever changed our ability to access information, which means that necessary changes will have to be made in order to keep certain industries afloat, but those changes will happen naturally. In the music industry we see the perfect example – artists were no longer selling as many CDs, but their popularity skyrocketed, because people were listening to their music. So, instead of making the bulk of their money on CD sales, smart musicians realized that the future would involve concert tours and in-person appearances that couldn't be mimicked on the Internet. While Anime creators may not make as much money on DVD sales as perhaps they would've had sites like YouTube not been created, they can cash in on their newfound popularity by appearing at Anime Conventions and by selling product based on the series that is so popular, because people were able to access it on YouTube.

To sum up - people who watch unlicensed Anime on the internet are essential in creating the popularity needed to get it licensed, and while the industry may have to adjust, those who work in the field will make money, because the demand is huge – in part, because of dispersion through the internet to markets throughout the world.
So, Elitists – please just be aware that you are at the end of a very long chain and that those you look down on for watching fansubs are actually an essential part of the market which keeps the popularity up and the money rolling in for those who create Anime.

Whew. So what do you think? Do they have a point? Sound off on our forums and let the discussion begin!

If you have a rant of your own and would like to see your work in this space, just follow the rules below and you could be the next featured fan in RANT RANT RANT!:

Welcome to RANT RANT RANT!

What I'm looking for are your best and brightest rants: no shorter than 300 words, on any topic you like related to anime. I'm expecting decent writing, and a modicum of sensibility. Send me a well-written and thoughtful rant that's a decent length, and I'll print it in this space, regardless of whether or not I agree with it, with no further commentary from me. The goal is to provide a more visible and public space for those of you with intelligent things to say about anime, the industry, anything you like related to the subject; discussion in our forums will surely follow.

The rules? Well, here they are:

1. No excessive swearing. "Damn" and "Hell" are fine, anything stronger than that needs to be excluded or censored.
2. Personal attacks will not be tolerated.
3. The word "Rant" must be in your email subject line.
4. Your rant must be at least 300 words, and use proper spelling and grammar. Internet speak, like 'lol' or 'u' instead of 'you' will not be tolerated.
5. If you send me something that's already been published on your blog or on another site, I'm just going to delete it. Likewise, requests that I link to your blog or another site if I print your rant will also result in your email being sent straight to the trash.

Remember, your editorial doesn't have to be negative at all - feel free to write whatever you like, so long as it's on-topic. We're looking for solid, well-stated opinions, not simply excessive negativity.

Send your rants to [email protected], and watch this space next week for our next installment!





I sat down to write the column last month and decided I was pretty sick and tired of staring at Howl. So I cracked open Photoshop to craft a new banner for Hey, Answerman!, but the inspiration just didn't come!

What's the obvious solution? Ask my readers to do it for me!

Here's the deal. You take this banner:



And, using those same dimensions, make something crazy or creative or funny and submit it. Each week I'll pick a new one and post it. You don't have to use any specific anime character (in fact, you don't HAVE to use an anime character at all); go wild! Animated banners are A-OK, too.

A few rules:

1. Don't use real people in the banner, no matter how famous they may be.
2. No profanity.
3. The banner must have the Hey, Answerman! logo in it featured prominently, although you may change the font to whatever you like.
4. Submissions must use the same dimensions as the current banner, in terms of pixel width and height.
A little bigger or smaller is OK, but don't go overboard.

Every week a new banner will be chosen and posted at the top of the column, along with a credit so the creator can bask in his or her amazing fame and glory. What's the prize for winning, you may ask? Well, every week a new banner will be chosen and posted at the top of the column, along with a credit so the creator can bask in his or her amazing fame and glory!

Email your submissions to answerman (at) animenewsnetwork.com. Good luck! Have fun!

See you all next week!


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